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Nikon Z9 Field Report

Having been involved in the global introduction campaigns for both the Nikon D850 and the Z7, I can honestly say that working with the Z9 — Nikon’s new flagship mirrorless camera — has been nothing short of a life-changing experience.

For the past month, I have extensively tested the Z9 in real-life situations in the field, and this is my field report.

First things first: specs. The Z9 is built around a newly developed FX-format stacked CMOS 80.2MP sensor with a 20-stop dynamic range (19.77 EV) with a native 50-102,400 ISO range (expandable to 25-204,800). The Z9 has an updated hybrid AF system comprising 1,080 on-sensor phase-detection AF points as well as 850 contrast-detect points, covering 98% of the image frame. Epic stuff!

The body is considerably smaller than a D6, and a whole lot lighter despite having an integrated vertical grip that feels just as good. The entire body is made from titanium, an industry first. Ergonomics are great, and all the buttons are in the right place — but there are a few new ones.

The first one is a little switch near the bottom of the grip that features a fire icon. Flip that switch and a heating element inside the grip turns on, keeping your hands and fingers toasty warm on those cold winter shoots. The shutter button will also heat up when using this feature, so no more frost-bitten shutter fingers!

The second new button is located on the back of the camera, next to the microphone, and controls another revolutionary new function: Niko. Amazon has Alexa, Apple has Siri, and Nikon now has Niko. Niko is your own personal assistant. When you press this button you can ask Niko to help you find the right exposure, find the nearest Starbucks, or give feedback on your images. In the menu you can choose from three different feedback levels: Beginner (“Great shot, well done!”), Constructive Critique (“Have you tried a vertical composition?”), and Passive Aggressive (“I don’t care about this image, but someone else might”).

When this function is enabled, it shows up on the LCD screen as “Virtual ass” because it’s too long. This will be fixed with a future firmware update.

Autofocus is lightning fast and deadly accurate. Most cameras have eye detection, but the Z9 adds Species Recognition. The Z9 can connect to any cellular network with its built-in 5G technology, and when you point your lens at an animal the camera quickly scans its online species database and shows you the name of the species in the EVF. When I tried to photograph my friend Awi, who recently gained a lot of weight during his 12-month self-isolation in Sweden, the camera incorrectly labeled him as “hippopotamus” in the viewfinder, but this will also be fixed in a future firmware update.

The Z9 uses the same technology to offer you the first in-camera dating app for photographers: Nikompanion™. You can scroll through profiles of photographers around the world to find your Nikompanion for life, and you can do it all on the back of your camera. Take a picture or video and immediately send it to your future partner anywhere in the world!

Another fascinating new feature on the Z9 is called MosQUITo™. When enabled in the menu, the camera will produce an ultrasonic sound that humans cannot hear, but that will keep the mosquitoes away up to 3m/9ft! Anyone who has ever photographed in Alaska or Scandinavia in summer will appreciate this nifty feature. You might attract some bats though.

These features alone will blow all other cameras back into the stone age, but there is more. The Z9 is triple-sealed and waterproof up to 1m/3ft. Inside the vertical grip, next to the battery, sits a small air capsule and the FloatBag™. When you accidentally drop your Z9 in a river, ocean, or lake, the water pressure will activate the air capsule which will then inflate the FloatBag — much like the airbag in your car. This will keep your Z9 afloat so that you can quickly retrieve it. Nikon has clearly listened to its outdoor photographers!

I now realize I haven’t even talked about image quality yet, probably because it is exactly what you’d expect it to be — superb to the max. Hyper-sharp and completely noise-free. Photography redefined.

Needless to say, I was disappointed that I had to send my prototype back to Nikon after a month of pure photography bliss. I can’t wait to get my Z9 later this year!

Marsel | squiver.com

38 comments

  1. Adam says:

    If only :) April fools love it…

  2. Peter says:

    Very interested in your Z9 feedback Marcel, thank you for your summary experiences. I got fed up with waiting for Canon to get their mirrorless act together 18 months ago and sold all my gear and moved back to Nikon and the Z7 and only Z-mount lenses. I’m therefore looking forward to getting my hands on the Z9 in due course.

  3. RAUL says:

    AMAZING! Thanks for your post. What about fps?

  4. Rick Beldegreen says:

    Sounds pretty incredible. But 80 MP!! You’ll need a new hard drive after every shoot. What would be the reason for this unless you are regularly printing billboards. With all those innovative features, I’m anxious to know the price. I wonder if there will be a scaled down version for us less accomplished shooters

  5. Sathis says:

    photography april fools prank post

  6. David a Hempfling says:

    Nothing on the IBIS. It is important to me as an old dude like me. Canon went with an 8 stop. Where will the Z9 end up?

  7. Ted says:

    I read somewhere that the ultrasonic feature was first developed in Ecuador.

  8. Jon says:

    Happy 1st of April!

  9. Richard Fisher says:

    Interesting but I am disappointed to read that Nikon did not off a camera for left-handed photographers (a mirrored version of the mirrorless camera).

  10. David says:

    :-) ..then again, a heated shutter button might actually be quite useful.

  11. Jared says:

    April fools

  12. Navin Chandra says:

    Omg ppl. Please read the full report before posting comments…

  13. paul fletcher says:

    I hope this 8s not an april fooks say post… airbag floatation, mosquito deterant…?

  14. Alvaro says:

    No me quiero ni imaginar lo que esta nueva cámara va a costar …
    Si no he podido comprar una Z6II me imagino que la Z9 será para fotógrafos ricos …

  15. Jens says:

    One of the best 1April texts i have read in a while, loved the MosQuitO !

    1. Marsel van Oosten says:

      Thank you Jens, happy you enjoyed it!

  16. John Cumberland says:

    Marsel’s April 1st prototype specification is superb but will he persuade Nikon to make it?

    1. Marsel van Oosten says:

      What do you mean? Those features are already approved and tested.

      1. John Cumberland says:

        Thank you for your ‘confirmation’ Marsel.
        We have two on order (one each).

        John C

        1. Marsel van Oosten says:

          Excellent choice! I recommend the Passive-aggressive mode when you use Niko

          1. John Cumberland says:

            Thank you but the heated grip and shutter button is a higher priority for those of us who have nearly lost our ‘shutter finger’ to frostbite during Arctic photo trips!

  17. a minten says:

    prima 1 april grap

  18. D Brooks says:

    If you take it in the bathroom with you and clap twice it will wipe!

  19. Alessandro says:

    Good April’s fool prank :D

  20. Scott Murphy says:

    You folks got pranked.

  21. James Gould says:

    Thanks Marsel, well done.

    JIM

  22. John Cumberland says:

    As Marsel is a respected Nikon Ambassador this post is likely to be a Nikon-approved tease about the Z9. Surely the ‘real message’ is “expect to be surprised” by the final Z9 specification?

    1. Daniella Sibbing says:

      John, check the date of this post LOL
      If it sounds too good to be true…

  23. Mirco says:

    Sorry I don’t believe this mosquito and ‚Siri, Features. Sounds fabricated.

    1. Marsel van Oosten says:

      Sounds fabricated because it is. April Fool’s

  24. John Wilson says:

    Its better to read reviews of new cameras from objective assessments rather than people representing the brand that have everything to gain from positive reviews and everything to lose for negative comments. A field report should also include the usability of the camera not only its features. How heavy is it, how does it carry, how do the rubber grips wear, is the eyepiece comfortable, is the lcd screen viewable in all situations or some etc. These are all things a photographer in the field considers when using cameras quite apart from the cameras operation.

    1. Marsel van Oosten says:

      Life is too short to be this serious, John. Do the words April Fool’s mean anything to you?

  25. ElF says:

    Hai dimenticato le funzioni “Trova la mia Z9” (se la dimentichi da qualche parte la rete di spedizione Amazon te la invia al tuo domicilio alla latitudine e longitudine della tua posizione in tre giorni lavorativi) e la funzione “disinfect” (se la cedi a qualcuno, alla restituzione, il monitor viene disinfettato con un soffio spray su 5 assi per pulire eventuali goccioline, bava e liquidi organici depositati sul retro).

    You forgot the “Find my Z9” functions (if you forget it somewhere the Amazon shipping network will send it to your home at the latitude and longitude of your location in three working days) and the “disinfect” function (if you sell it to someone, upon return, the monitor is disinfected with a 5-axis spray blow to clean any droplets, burrs and organic liquids deposited on the back).

  26. Marketa Zvelebil says:

    Thank you for this wonderful and useful review – I have just ordered the Z9 – only for the MosQUITo function!!

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